Dawn and I got out of Denver around 1700 hours, the skies were clear with no sign of precipitation. We stopped in Trinidad to gas up and get a bite to eat. Main street was beautiful…. it was paved in brick with historic buildings on both sides … I was reminded of Leadville and even remembered a story about one of my ancestors who killed a man here in a firefight at the turn of the last century. The restaurants were mostly bars that served food as an afterthought or a high end steakhouse that would tie up a couple of hours and serve a meal that would make me want to take a nap. Just as I was beginning to settle for a MacBurger we found the Trinidad Dinner. Perfect…. Classic Greek Family Restaurant with all the trimmings. I had the Giro dinner and Dawn’s shrimp looked good.
We arrived at the Santa Fe Hilton at midnight … it was lovely.
The next morning we took advantage of the buffet and I made a pig of myself eating large quantities of bacon, eggs, lox, fruit ….
So, with a full belly I took Dawn in arm and we proceeded to take in Old Town Santa Fe. There were the usual tourist shops and more than a few art galleries. We did spend time in one that featured a sculpture by a fellow who caught my fancy. The docent told us that if we were going to the basilica there was a life size “signs of the cross” he had on display in the adjacent garden. Wow! Pre Homo Sapien figures depicting the last hours. Powerful stuff.
The drive to Paramotor City was an easy 90 minutes. Mike had set-up near the pavilion and left a space for our tent that was protected from the wind on three sides and provided some nice cover from the western sun. Dawn and I made short work setting up the tent. Mike cooked up some hamburgers and we went out for the evening flight.
My first attempt went bad when the wing came up hard to the left but the second was picture perfect. I spent the first ten minutes buzzing around the patch enjoying some smooth air and reacquainted myself with the area. I was also trying out the FRS Radio that Mike had put together and was able to hear other pilots for the first time since my first training days. Unfortunately the VOX was limiting my power lever so I was not able to transmit to Dawn who was back at the tent. But I could hear Kurt and Sue who were heading toward the Radio Facility. I followed them for awhile but turned back when the air started getting ratty. They were keeping up a regular banter about the conditions and who was where. At one point they got into a little tiff and Kurt suggested they take it to another channel. Later they came back to the common frequency and everybody knew they had resolved their disagreement when Sue called out to Kurt from way up high…. “Kurt, come up here and watch the sunset with me” ….
The honeymoon continues.
Everybody was in bed early looking forward to the morning.
Thursday #493 #494 #495
It was 57 degrees with light breeze from the North, perfect conditions. I followed the Rio South and took pictures of Mike, Robert and CC while they did the low and slow in the river bottom including one of Mike chasing an elk.
|Good looking Bull Elk
Came back to the field and popped of two quick flights to bump the numbers for the big 500th. We spent the rest of the day sharing hanger stories and watching dust devils popping in the desert.
Paramotor City was pretty quiet, usually half the group shows before the official first day but not this time. Dawn and I played some cards and read but there wasn’t much to do and way too hot to sleep. It was, “Parawaiting”, at it’s best.
X-country Flight to the Ruins …. twitchy air. Once again I stayed high and took pictures of the 5 other pilots. The best ruin was a stone buildings built in a circle with a trash mound close by. I was going to fly to the famous mushroom rocks but it was getting pretty bouncy so rather than heading even farther out and risking a long uncomfortable ride home, I turned back at 5 miles.
That afternoon while we were sitting in the shade of Mike’s RV a Dust Devil blew through our campsite and headed straight for Michelle’s Pavilion. The heavy party tent she had rented for the banquet was hit. We watched the walls get sucked in and when they puffed out… it was launched into the maelstrom and on to the roof of the pavilion. The tent was destroyed and two of the heavy metal poles punctured the roof of Michelle’s paraglider loft. Mike and I hung on to the supports for our shade and saved the RV from some expensive damage.
|Dust Devil launches our party tent
|Dawn cleans up after the dust devil
That evening we shared the pavilion with a local motorcycle club made up of of mostly retired Albuquerque cops. Pizzas and beer was hauled in and we contributed large tray of mock Sushi. After dinner we sat on the new observation deck and watched the “brave ones flying in 10 -12 MPH winds. The Hero of the night was one of the Mexican contingent who showed some real skill flying well past dark. The retired cops partied all night long and pitched loud and sincere woo to some woman named Tiffiny, I don’t know if she was one of the cops or just the only single woman but she was well attended.. I slept through most of the celebration but Dawn said they were still at it at 3:00am.
Was scheduled for a X-country flight to the Mesa and it was a hoot. Jim Doyle’s wife was scheduled to fly with Cliff in his 6 shooter PPC but for some altruistic reason was not able to go and her seat went to Dawn. She had a great first flight!
I was hoping to accompany them in the Falcon because we have the same airspeed but he headed straight for the mesa and I never saw them again. So I hooked up with Mike and Jerry and we followed the Highway to the first waypoint. It was mildly bumpy most of the way but well worth the trip. Kevin described it best, we looked like an ant trail with a bunch of wings heading out and another line of guys returning. Closing on the mesa I encountered a good headwind and had to satisfy myself with getting close enough to get a good look. At one point I wasn’t penetrating at all so when I finally decided to turn back … it was 50 plus MPH. Cliff and Dawn landed shortly before me but she was on the field grinning ear to ear. That afternoon, waiting in the heat she even made some noises like she might like to become a pilot.
More waiting in the heat … Michell provided something called carotid coolers, it’s some kind of gel sewn into a Lycra tube that you tie around your neck. I’m not sure what the fashion statement was but I was a great way to beat the heat.
Saturday night was the Hero and Villains Banquet. I picked “The Moron” as my hero and wore a leather aviators helmet with a Hawaiian shirt and just so that everyone knew who I was I had some TP hanging out the back of my pants. Denzel was a great Superman but the best was Johnny Fetz who wore a head to toe one piece Lycra suit done up as Tony the Tiger.
The after dinner entertainment was flying by Mike Bennett, Jim Doyle and a few others. One pilot got so far down wind that we thought we might have to mount a recovery, he did made it back but, it was getting dark. Cliff gave us all a thrill when he rolled his PPC launching in big air but nobody was hurt and the damage was minor. The music was provided by The Pilot Project (short a few guys) and a great time was had by all.
Best flight of the trip. Smooth air with two inversion layers… one at 300 feet and another at 1500 feet. Everywhere else was glass. I climbed to 8200 feet and took in the sights and later dropped down and tried to get Dawn’s attention so I could drop her a parachute. That didn’t work so I dropped it to CC instead. She had been grounded with a bum knee and was sitting under the observation deck. Of course she couldn’t go running out in the field to catch it with her crutches but my intentions were good. After an hour and 30minutes of bliss I landed and we packed up.
The ride home was effortless, we stopped in Las Vegas NM for lunch. The restaurant was right out of the 60’s and I enjoyed Liver and Onions … never see that on a menu anymore. Another great adventure !